The day was a collaboration between Nga Kaitiaki O Nga Wai Maori (NKONWM – which represents seven local hapu), the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group (IKHMG) and the Northland Regional Council’s Mangere Stakeholder Catchment group.
Wednesday’s event, also attended by Ngapuhi member Kelvin Davis, saw Kokopu School students planting around 400 native plants on a local dairy farm, on the banks of the Mangere River. The plants were the first of 4000 donated to properties in the catchment.
NKONWM chair Hona Edwards says a range of karamῡ, harakeke (flax), tῑ kōuka (cabbage tree), kānuka and mānuka plants were donated by Te Arai Nursery.
“This is the first planting event of this scale by NKONWM and we are positive of its success now, and for any future opportunities,” says Hona. “Riparian planting is absolutely important on many levels, as is building supportive community relationships for success.”
Year 5-8 Kokopu School students got involved with the planting through Soozee McIntyre of Whitebait Connection who organised the 45 children, teachers and parents to do the planting on the 93ha dairy farm of siblings Shayne and Charmaine O’Shea.
“It’s important to NKONWM and the Kaipara Harbour Management Group that we find farmers who are willing to participate. 10 of the 18 dairy farmers in the catchment took up the offer of donated plants this time around,” says Hona.
DairyNZ catchment engagement leader Helen Moodie is on the catchment group working to improve the water quality of the Mangere River, and worked with local farmers to get over 3000 plants onto dairy farms.
Although the Mangere, which flows into the Wairua River and Kaipara Harbour, placed towards the bottom of Northland’s monitored rivers in the past, recent trend analysis showed this is no longer the case. In fact, in 2014 the catchment received a prestigious NZ River Award for being the fourth-equal most improved river nationally.
“Dairy farmers play a key role in community projects and riparian planting on-farms will contribute to improving local waterways,” says Helen. “DairyNZ water quality scientists say keeping stock out of water and having grass filters or native plantings along streams really helps improve water quality.
“Robust scientific work has shown it results in significant reductions in waterway contaminants, especially sediment and E. coli that have been identified as key issues for Northland’s waterways.”
NKONWM aims to improve water quality, fish habitat, increase fish stocks and build positive and enduring community relationships. Hona says this planting programme will contribute to all those objectives by mitigating against sedimentation and providing essential habitat for native fish and their food supply, freshwater insects.
“This event would allow more opportunity for NKONWM to continue to get more plants in and around the catchment and tributaries that head back to the Kaipara Harbour.”
Along with the 4200 at Kokopu, the remaining 16,000 plants were distributed around properties in Akerama, Whakapara, Ruatangata and Poroti.
“With this distribution, we could cover a larger area to at least to begin a planting programme, and we hope it would be an annual event,” says Hona.
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